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US judge extends order halting Texas fetal remains regulation

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A federal judge on Wednesday extended until Jan. 27 a restraining order that halted a new Texas regulation requiring fetal tissue remains to be buried or cremated to allow for more time to make a ruling.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks issued the ruling after hearing two days of testimony this week on the regulation that Texas contends is aimed at maintaining the highest standards of human dignity. Abortion rights groups contend it is an unnecessary and vague regulation aimed at making abortions more arduous and expensive.

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Sparks last month put the regulation on hold before it was to take effect on Dec. 19. He had previously issued a temporary restraining order to delay enactment until at least Jan. 6.

Sparks asked the state how the existing law on the disposal of human remains and dead human bodies would mesh with the proposed regulation and was told by a lawyer for the state that fetal tissue is not considered human remains for the purpose of the statute.

“Texas values the dignity of the remains of the unborn and believes that fetal tissue should be disposed of properly and humanely,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said in a statement. He said he is confident the state will prevail.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, a plaintiff in the case and president of Whole Woman’s Health, which runs three facilities in Texas, testified that she believes the regulation would increase costs and could increase the stigma of an abortion.

“I don’t understand how this puts women’s health and safety forward,” she said in court.

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The Texas limitations would be more stringent than regulations in almost every other state, which allow aborted fetal tissue to be disposed of the same as other human tissue, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights group.

The regulation change in Texas was crafted shortly after the state suffered a stinging defeat at the U.S. Supreme Court last year when the justices struck down separate abortion restrictions backed by the state’s Republican leaders.

Writing for the court, liberal Justice Stephen Breyer said the measures imposing strict regulations on doctors and facilities constituted an undue burden on abortion access and violated the U.S. Constitution.

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(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Tom Brown and Leslie Adler)


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Taxpayers spent $243,000 on disgraced ex-Navy Secretary’s trip where he insulted relieved captain: report

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On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that prior to resigning, disgraced Navy Secretary Thomas Modly's trip to Guam for the speech that upended his career cost the taxpayer $243,000.

"For taxpayers, the cost of the flight alone was at least $243,151.65, according to a Navy estimate," reported Dan Lamothe. "The figure was based on 35 hours of flight time to and from Guam, with refueling in Hawaii. Modly traveled on a C-37B at a cost of about $6,946.19 per hour, according to the estimate, which was obtained by The Washington Post. The jet is a military version of the Gulfstream G550."

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Andrew Cuomo threatens to bail on CNN interview when his brother shows vintage photo of governor in bellbottoms

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) appeared to feign anger during a CNN interview Wednesday in which his brother, Christopher Cuomo, showed a vintage photo of their family with the elder brother clad in bellbottoms, a rhinestone belt and an unfortunate attempt at an afro.

The younger Cuomo is still suffering from the effects of coronavirus, appearing redfaced and wiping his brow. However, his brother noted that he seemed more animated than he has in days.

"Now I've seen you referred to a little bit recently as the 'Love Gov' and I'm wondering if that's making you a little soft on the president, that you don't want to really criticize him, because you need him and now's not a time for fighting," said the younger Cuomo. "But don't you have to balance that with calling him out if he's doing things that you don't think are great for the people of your state to be hearing and experiencing? Love Gov?"

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Fox News hosts are going back to downplaying threat from coronavirus: report

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Major Fox News personalities like Sean Hannity spent weeks assuring viewers that the novel coronavirus wasn't a serious threat. In recent weeks, however, they have shifted to a different narrative, acknowledging that the virus is dangerous but giving President Donald Trump credit for taking action and criticizing Democrats' lack of action — even though many Democrats, in fact, warned the pubic first.

But according to The Daily Beast, even as there is no clear end to the crisis in sight, and even as the U.S. crosses 13,000 deaths, many Fox News hosts are going back to downplaying the virus, either telling viewers it wasn't as bad as advertised and urging the president to end public safety measures against it.

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